The twelve articles of accusation
The twelve articles of condemnation drawn up by the faculty of the University of Paris summarize the court's finding contradict the already-doctored court record.
Illiterate Jeanne signed an abjuration document she did not understand under threat of immediate execution. The court substituted a different abjuration in the official record. Initially 70 articles of accusation were prepared. The 70 were reduced to 12 by Maitre Nicolas Midi.
The ordinary, or regular, trial began on March 26, the day after Palm Sunday, with the drawing up of the 70 articles (later summarized in a 12 article indictment). If Jeanne refused to answer them, she would be said to have admitted them. On the following day, the articles were read aloud and Jeanne was questioned in French. The next two days, the extensive list of charges were then read again to her in French. The Ordinary Trial concluded on May 24 with her abjuration, an important turning point in the proceedings.
On May 24, Jeanne was taken to a scaffold set up in the cemetery next to Saint-Ouen Church, and told that she would be burned immediately unless she signed a document renouncing her visions and agreeing to stop wearing soldiers’ clothing. She had been wearing a soldiers’ outfit consisting of a tunic, hosen, and long boots that went up to the waist, tied together with cords around the waist.
The clergy who served on the tribunal later said Jeanne had kept this clothing tied tightly together during her months in prison because she said she needed such an outfit to protect herself from possible rape.
The trial record omits much information on this issue, but does contain quotes from her protesting that she was not doing anything wrong; but faced with immediate execution on May 24, she agreed to give up this clothing and sign the abjuration document.
THE TWELVE ARTICLES OF ACCUSATION
This woman did say and affirm that when she was of the age of thirteen years or thereabouts, she did, with her bodily eyes, see Saint Michael come to comfort her, and from time to time also Saint Gabriel ; that both the one and the other appeared to her in bodily form. Sometimes also she had seen a great multitude of Angels; since then, Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret have shown themselves to her in bodily form ; every day she sees these two Saints and hears their voices ; she had often kissed and embraced them, and sometimes she had touched them, in a physical and corporeal manner. She had seen the heads of these Angels and these Saints, but of the rest of their persons and of their dress she will say nothing. The said Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret have also formerly spoken to her near a spring which flows at the foot of a great tree, called in the neighborhood “The Fairies’ Tree.” This spring and this tree nevertheless have been, it is said, frequented by fairies; persons ill of fever have repaired there in great numbers to recover their health. This spring and this tree are nevertheless in a profane place. There and elsewhere she had often venerated these two Saints, and had done them obeisance.
Besides this, she did say that Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret appeared and shown themselves to her adorned with most beautiful and most precious crowns. At this time and very often since, they have announced to her, by the order of God, that she was to go in search of a certain secular Prince, promising that, by her help and succor, this same Prince should, by force of arms, recover a great temporal domain and the honor of this world, and should obtain victory over his adversaries: this same Prince received her, and furnished her with arms and soldiers for the carrying out of what has just been said. Further, Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret have ordered this same woman, by the command of God, to take and to wear a man’s dress, which she had borne and did still bear, persisting in obeying this order, to the extent that she said she would rather die than give up this dress, adding that she will only abandon it by the express order of God. She had even preferred not to assist in the Office of the Mass and to deprive herself of the Holy Communion of the Eucharist, at the time when the Church commands the faithful to receive it, rather than to resume female dress and to quit this man’s habit.
The said woman had gone so far, under the inspiration of these two Saints, that without the knowledge and against the will of her parents, at the age of seventeen, she did quit the paternal roof and joined herself to a great troop of soldiers, with whom she lived night and day, having never had, or at least very rarely, another woman with her. These two Saints have said and prescribed to her many other things for the which she declares herself sent by the God of Heaven and the Church Victorious, composed of Saints who already enjoy celestial blessedness; it is to them that she submits as right all she had done. As to the Church Militant, she had deferred and refused to submit herself, her deeds, and her words to it, although many times required and admonished so to do, saying always that it is impossible to her to do contrary to what she had, in her Trial, affirmed to have done by the order of God; and that for these things she will not refer to the decision or the judgment of any man alive, but to the judgment of God alone.
The said Saints have revealed to this woman that she will obtain the glory of the blessed and will gain the salvation of her soul if she did preserve the virginity which she vowed to these Saints the first time she saw and recognized them. As a result of this revelation, she did affirm that she is as assured of her salvation as if, now and in fact, she were already in the Kingdom of Heaven.
The same woman said that the sign which was received by the Prince to whom she was sent – a sign which decided this Prince to believe in her and to aid her to carry on the war – was, that Saint Michael came to the said Prince, accompanied by a multitude of Angels, of which some had crowns and others had wings; with them also were Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret. She and the Angel proceeded together, their feet touching the ground, by the road, the staircase, and the Prince’s chamber; the Angel was accompanied by other Angels and by the said two Saints; he gave to the Prince a crown, very precious and made of the purest gold, bowing before him and doing him reverence. Once she had said that when her Prince received this sign, it seemed to her he was alone, although many other persons were close by; another time she had said that it seemed to her that an Archbishop had received the sign of the crown and had given it to the Prince, in the presence of several temporal lords.
The same woman did say and affirm that he who visits her is Saint Michael; that which makes her believe in him is the good counsel, the comfort, and the good teaching which he did give her, and because he had named himself to her, and had told her that he was Saint Michael. She had in the same way recognized Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret; she knew how to distinguish the one from the other, because they name themselves to her and greet her.
On the subject of the pretended Saint Michael who appeared to her, she believes that it is truly Saint Michael; and the sayings and deeds of this Michael she believes to be true and good as firmly as she believes that Our Lord Jesus suffered and died for our redemption.
The same woman did say and affirm that she is certain of what should happen on the subject of certain future things, as surely as she is certain of those which she sees passing under her eyes. On the subject of occult things she did boast to know or to have known them by means of the revelations which have been made to her by the Voices of Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret: for example, that she will be delivered from her captivity, and that the French will do, under her guidance, the greatest exploits that they have ever done in all Christendom; for example, again, she said she had known by revelation without any one pointing them out to her, men whom she had never seen, and herself revealed and pointed out the existence of a sword which was hidden in the earth.
The same woman did say and affirm that, by the command and good pleasure of God, she had taken and borne and continues still to bear a man’s dress. Further, she did say that, because she had had God’s command to bear this habit, it was necessary that she should have a short tunic, cap, jerkin, breeches, hose with many points, hair cut close above her ears, keeping no garment which might indicate her sex. She did say and affirm that she had, in this dress, several times received the Sacrament of the Eucharist. She had not desired and did still not desire to resume woman’s dress, although many times required and charitably admonished so to do. At times she said that she would rather die than leave off the dress which she bears; at times she said that she will leave it off only by the command of God. She did also say, that if she again found herself with this dress among those for whom she had armed herself she would act as she did before her capture; and this would be, she did add, one of the greatest benefits that could happen to the whole kingdom of France. Also, for nothing in the world will she swear to wear this dress or to take arms no more. In all this she did say that she had done and did well, obeying God and His Commandments.
The same woman did avow and acknowledge that she had caused to be written many letters and warnings on the which were placed these names “Jhesus Maria,” with the sign of the Cross. Sometimes, she put a cross, and between her and her party this signified that she did not wish them to do what in this same letter she told them to do. At other times she caused it to be written that she would have those who did not obey her warnings killed, and “by the blows she would give they would see who had the true right from the God of Heaven.” She had often said that she had done nothing but by the revelation and order of God.
The same woman did say and confess that, being of the age of seventeen, by revelation, as she said, and spontaneously, she went to seek a Knight whom she had never seen, abandoning for this the paternal roof, against the will of her parents. These, when they had knowledge of her departure, were wild with grief. This same woman ordered the Knight to conduct her, or to have her conducted, to the Prince already mentioned. The said Knight, or Captain, furnished this woman, on her demand, with a man’s dress and a sword, and appointed and commanded for her conduct a Knight, a Squire, and four servants. When they had come to the Prince, this woman told him that she wished to fight against his adversaries. She promised to establish him in great sovereignty and to vanquish his enemies; and for this she had been sent by the God of Heaven. She said she had acted well, having had revelation and the command of God.
The same woman did say and affirm that she, of herself, no one compelling her, did throw herself down from a very high tower, wishing rather to die than to be placed in the hands of her enemies and to live after the destruction of the town of Compiegne. She said also that she was not able to avoid this fall, although Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret had forbidden it to her. To offend them is, she herself said, a great sin. But she knew that this sin was remitted to her after she had confessed it; she said she received revelation of this.
The same woman said that Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret have promised to conduct her to Paradise, if she did preserve with care the virginity of body and soul which she vowed to them. Of this she said she is as assured as if she were already in the glory of the blessed. She did not think she had committed mortal sin ; for, if she were in a state of mortal sin, she said it seem to her that Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret would not visit her each day as they do.
The same woman did say and affirm that God did love sundry persons still living, designated by her and named, more than He did this woman: this, she knew by revelation from Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret, who speak frequently to her, but in French and not in English, because these Saints are not on the side of the English. Since she had known by revelation that their Voices were for the Prince aforesaid she had ceased to love the Burgundians.
The same woman did say and confess that to the Voices and the Spirits now under consideration, whom she calls Michael, Gabriel, Catherine and Margaret, she did often do reverence, uncovering, bending the knee, kissing the earth on which they walk, vowing to them her virginity, at times kissing and embracing Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret; she had touched them with her own hands, corporeally and physically; she had asked of them counsel and help; at times she did call them, and they even come to her without being called; she accedes to and obeys their counsels and their commands; she had always obeyed them, without having asked counsel thereon from whomsoever it be – father, mother, curé, prelate, or any ecclesiastic whatsoever. She did believe no less firmly that the Voices and the revelations she receives by the medium of the Saints of whom she speaks come from God and by His order: she believes it as firmly as she believes the Christian Faith and that Our Lord Jesus Christ suffered for us Death and Passion. She did add that, if it were an evil spirit who had come to her under the appearance and mask of Saint Michael she would quite well have known how to distinguish that it was not Saint Michael. Finally she said, that of her own wish and without any one pressing her thereto, she had sworn to Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret, who appeared to her, to reveal to no one the sign of the crown given to the Prince to whom she was sent, until she should have permission from God to reveal it.
The same woman did say and confess that if the Church wished that she should do anything contrary to the order she did pretend tohave received from God, she would not consent, whatsoever it might be. She did affirm that she knows well, that all contained in her Trial has come to her by the order of God, and it would be impossible for her to do contrary to what she did. Thereupon she did not wish to refer to the decision of the Church Militant, nor to any one, whoever it be in the world, but to God alone, Our Lord, Whose commands she did always execute, above all in what did concern her revelations, and in what she did in consequence. This answer and all the others are not from her own head, she said, but she had made and given them by order of her Voices and revelations: she did persist [in this], although by the Judges and others of the Assessors, the Article of Faith, ‘The Church, One, Holy, Catholic,’ had often been recalled to her, and it had often been shown to her that all the faithful are bound to obey the Church Militant and to submit to it their words and actions above all in matters of faith and in all which concerns sacred Doctrine and Ecclesiastical sanction.
The Twelve Articles are sent to the Committee.
The following Thursday, April 5th, We, the Judges, sent the Articles in question to each of the Doctors and Masters having knowledge thereof, whom we knew were to be found in this town. We accompanied our missive with a letter of requisition for each of them, couched in these terms :
“We, Pierre, by the Divine mercy Bishop of Beauvais, and Brother Jean Lemaitre, Vicar of the Inquisition, To you, such an one [here follows the name, surname, and quality of the Doctor or Master], we pray you, and for the good of the Faith, require you, that before Tuesday next you will give us in writing and under your seal wholesome counsel on the subject of the assertions borne in the Twelve Articles hereto annexed, in order to know if, the said assertions being by you maturely weighed, considered, and compared, all or any of them seem to you contrary to the Orthodox Faith, or, on any point contrary to Holy Writ, to the decisions of the Holy Roman Church, to the decisions of Doctors approved by the Church, or to the Canonical sanction; and if all or any seem to you scandalous, audacious, disturbing to the Commonwealth, injurious, criminal, contrary to good manners, or culpable in any other manner whatsoever; and in effect for you to say what appears to you should be enacted with regard to them in a matter of Faith.
Written at Rouen, Thursday after Easter, April 5th, the year of our Lord, 1431.”